Maryland gymnastics’ junior Sanya Glauber gracefully sailed her way through her uneven bars routine, twisting her body and executing handstands with sleakness. Even with the small step to the side to keep her balance on the dismount, Glauber’s routine was good enough to lead the Terps’ bars lineup; she registered a 9.80.
But her solid score did not receive the normal reaction it would from her team. As Glauber stepped off the mat, she gave coach Brett Nelligan an obligatory high-five as she looked down at the floor.
And as she jogged over to the sideline, Glauber’s Maryland teammates gave her some more high-fives, but they did not envelope her in nearly the same frenzy of hugs and congratulations she received after her career-best 9.95 during Maryland’s Big Five meet on Feb. 26.
“Mistakes happen to everyone, and I think it’s easy to get down on yourself,” Glauber said. “Of course you don’t want to be happy about a routine that you’re not proud of, but at the same time, picking it back up after something like that happens is extremely important.”
Glauber’s performance was the lone bright spot during the Terps’ rotation on the uneven bars. Nelligan’s squad registered just a 48.475 on the apparatus, emblematic of a frustrating night for Maryland’s gymnasts. The Terps finished in last place, scoring a 195.075 en route to elimination from the NCAA tournament Friday evening.
Even with No. 15 Auburn needing to withdraw from the tournament due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing protocols, Maryland knew coming in the top two to advance to the Tuscaloosa Regional final would be a tall task. It would need to put on a show and hope that one of its strong opponents — No. 1 Oklahoma or No. 23 Missouri — would make some uncharacteristic mistakes.
The Terps had a solid start to the meet on vault. Despite an unremarkable start with matching 9.75s from sophomore Reese McClure and freshman Samantha Gilbert, as well as a season-low 9.60 from senior Collea Burgess, junior Alexsis Rubio earned her third straight 9.90 to help the Terps.
And senior Audrey Barber anchored with a 9.85, executing a difficult Yurchenko one and a half, one of the more difficult skills to perform on the apparatus. The Terps earned a 48.95, and while it put them in last place early on, they were still within reach.
But their night quickly went downhill with a pair of lackluster rotations on bars and the balance beam. Maryland’s early-season struggles on the apparatus haunted it again on Friday evening. Glauber’s performance was the sole highlight, and the next highest scores were only a pair of matching 9.70s from Barber and freshman Olivia Weir.
“We were a little tight on bars, for whatever reason… I thought we were a little cautious,” Nelligan said. “They were just a little tense, a little tight, and I think it reflected in the scores.”
Nelligan’s squad’s effort to turn things around on the balance beam fell short. Despite a solid leadoff routine from Burgess that earned her a 9.725 and a career-high 9.80 from sophomore Sophia LeBlanc, a pair of falls and missteps later on hurt the Terps’ score as they notched a 48.525, their third sub-49 point performance of the meet.
But the Terps still wanted to show off their skills during the floor exercise, even if the meet was already out of reach. And for the first time all night, they found a rhythm, smoothly stringing impressive routine after impressive routine together.
“[Nelligan] basically just told us that this is our last shot, [to] give it all we’ve got and that’s all we can do,” Glauber said. “That’s kind of what he drove into us, especially last event, competing two days in a row, last meet of the season, just realizing that you can only have this meet now and you’re not going to relive it again.”
McClure led off the Maryland floor lineup with an inspired routine. With “This Is How We Do It” blaring in the Coleman Coliseum, she danced, flipped and tumbled her way to a 9.825, the best leadoff performance for the Terps on Friday.
Rubio followed up with a season-best 9.75 on floor, an event she does not normally compete in. And the Terps continued to show off their spirit. Burgess, Barber and fellow senior Sabriyya Rouse all found success, each recording over a 9.80. In the end, Maryland tallied a 49.125 on the apparatus, by far its best rotation of the night.
“Just before my routine, I was just thinking to take everything in from this entire year and put it all into this one floor routine, my last floor routine, and really just give it my all,” Burgess said.
Though they failed to advance to the final of the Tuscaloosa Regional, the Terps’ final rotation of the season was indicative of the adversities they had to overcome to make it to this stage.
From major injuries and COVID-19 contact tracing to getting past a harsh stretch of road meets, Maryland racked up a litany of accomplishments this season. It just wasn’t able to display that routinely enough on Friday night, leading to a bittersweet ending to its season.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t advance and that we didn’t really have the night that we know we’re capable of,” Nelligan said. “But to finish it that way, I think that helps us put some closure to this year and gets us excited for the future.”